Saddam sentence: Death by hanging

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…or as I always prefer, that he be hanged by the neck until dead.

Mixed bag for co-defendants: Some cleared, some 15-year sentences, at least one life sentence and at least one hanging. Nothing online yet. Saddam's response: "God is great." Ramsey Clark removed from the court.

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  1. The High Tribunal has spoken.

  2. Darn! I was looking forward to the reaction in Iraq when they let him off.

    We could have said “You’re so tired of the U.S. occupation, you can have Saddam back!”

  3. Good riddance to that bloodthirsty son of a bitch. I was afraid they would just talk him to death like Milosevic.

    -jcr

  4. If the Democrats come to power, they will make a deal with Saddam and release him, if he can clean up Iraq.

    It’s going to be like Dolemite.

  5. When Saddam is swinging from the gallows pole, we can declare Mission Accomplished an bring home the troops.

  6. The High Tribunal has spoken.

    Let’s not pretend that this was more than a show trial.

  7. When Saddam is swinging from the gallows pole, we can declare Mission Accomplished an bring home the troops.

    I can go along with that idea.

  8. You never had a rope around your neck. Well, I’m going to tell you something. When that rope starts to pull tight, you can feel the Devil bite your ass!

  9. Let’s not pretend that this was more than a show trial.

    Yeah, you’re right, anon. The poor guy was probably framed.

  10. have we killed more iraqi’s than he did yet? – its got to be close.

  11. “I was afraid they would just talk him to death like Milosevic.”

    It could have been ‘death by being forced to listen to the collected speeches of Al Gore’, but that was considered barbaric.

  12. I agree it was a show trial, but a question to ask could be, “what would a legit trial have looked like, and would the ‘just’ sentence have been any different?”

    i think in a world where the media wasnt there to help put on the pretence of ‘rule of law’, he would have simply been torn to bits by a mob. I dont know. But i’ve tried thinking about what other possible ways his ‘judgement’ could have gone.

  13. I’m sure the timing of the verdict’s release is purely coincidental….

  14. …or as I always prefer, that he be hanged by the neck until dead.

    As opposed to hanged by the neck until it leaves a mark?

  15. GILMORE: point well taken, but it does point up the gulf between the reality of Western rule of law and the facade we insist our clients show.

    After all, the Soviet Union had elections. Did that make it a democracy? That Saddam would have been hung by a fair trial as much as a rigged one was true, but what about the legions of other persons caught up in “counterterrorist sweeps” in Iraq?

    After a while, you begin to make a mockery of the things you say you believe in. It probably would have been preferable to have Saddam torn to pieces by a mob than to have Iraqi cynics smirking knowingly about “American justice.”

  16. When the Romanians captured Ceausescu and his wife, they required approx. 24 hours to try, convict, execute and release the videotape. I thought this displayed remarkable intelligence by the Romanian military. How many people have died to date over SoDamn Insanes trial? Ceausesce’s supporters saw the videotape and realized it was a lost cause.

    I have nothing against fair trials, but sometimes the niceties of the American legal system are counterproductive, espescially in a primative tribal society.

  17. Brian423,

    I vaguely recall an instance in England, where a man was sentenced to be hung but lived (I think the knot came loose or something). When the executioner attempted to string him up again, the mob voiced its disapproval in such uncertain terms that the condemned was returned to his cell.

    Eventually, he was released; the judges ruled that he had been hanged, and that as a result his sentence had been completed.

    So I figure “hanged by the neck until dead” would close that loophole.

    One macabre note: there was some guy out west in 1800’s who was sentenced to be hung, but it took a few months to build the gallows. During that time he ate very well, and lacking exercise became quite fat.

    Unfortunately, the executioner set up the drop based on his old lighter weight which meant he fell longer than he should have before the noose jerked tight round his neck. The end result, the noose jerked his head clean-off, and the two portions of his corpse thudded messily and bloodily to the ground.

    Now, if he had been sentenced to be hung by the neck until dead, was the sentence properly carried out? One could argue that it hadn’t been since he was not hung, but rather beheaded with a rope.

  18. Hung by the neck until dead as opposed to…

    “Then Sentence was passed, as followeth, viz. That they should return to the place from whence they came, from thence be drawn to the Common place of Execution upon Hurdles, and there to be Hanged by the Necks, then cut down alive, their Privy-Members cut off, and Bowels taken out to be burnt before their Faces, their Heads to be severed from their Bodies, and their Bodies divided into four parts, to be disposed of as the King should think fit

  19. It probably would have been preferable to have Saddam torn to pieces by a mob than to have Iraqi cynics smirking knowingly about “American justice.”

    maybe. it’s hard to speculate. I think maybe what might have happened in an unscripted version would have been pretty absurd as well. I think part of what tastes bad about this is the bareness of the fact that machiavellian forces always rule politics and ‘law’. He pretty much had to die one way or the other; it was a matter of staging the event appropriately for the various relevant audiences.

    if there is any upside of the stage show, maybe it’s for the kurds; they might walk away from this with a sense of honorable vindication. for us it might feel dirtier, but for them, it might have been the profound effet of rule of law they’ve experienced in hundreds of years.

    JG

  20. How many people have died to date over SoDamn Insanes trial? Ceausesce’s supporters saw the videotape and realized it was a lost cause.

    I don’t think there are many people fighting for the reinstallation of Saddam Hussein. They’re fighting for other reasons at this point.

  21. tarran:

    That was Blackjack Ketchum who was decapitated by the rope. I would guess he didn’t feel a thing, but it must have been a bloody mess for the hangman to deal with. I’ll bet the drunken crowd enjoyed it (bring back the good old days).

    I’m interested to see how Saddam goes out, will he cry and beg for his life, or will he have the courage to go out like a man.

  22. When Tim mentioned, “that he be hanged by the neck until dead,” I thought of Trelayne when he was playing the judge and he told Kirk, “You will hang by the neck, Captain, until you are dead, Dead, DEAD!” Does that make me a bad person, or just someone who has too much Star Trek on the brain, or both?

  23. Gilmore wrote: I think part of what tastes bad about this is the bareness of the fact that machiavellian forces always rule politics and ‘law’.

    I may be reading too much into this, but let’s not get carried away by cynicism. The rule of law is not a joke in the U.S. and most of the West. Just because we have not reached the ideal of justice doesn’t mean that our system is as bad as Soviet Russia’s. In the U.S. criminal-justice system, you can find out what the law is; the law can’t be changed to turn your actions into crimes after the fact; and you’re entitled to representation, to know the charges against you, to see the state’s evidence (especially potentially exculpatory evidence), to cross-examine the state’s witnesses, to challenge jurors, and to appeal the trial court’s decision. If the trial court’s decision veers too far from the law or the facts, the appellate court will reverse it.

    There is a margin of error, of course. But compared to realistic alternatives, the U.S. justice system is primarily ruled by ascertainable laws adopted through representative democracy, not by machiavellian forces.

  24. When Tim mentioned, “that he be hanged by the neck until dead,” I thought of Trelayne when he was playing the judge and he told Kirk, “You will hang by the neck, Captain, until you are dead, Dead, DEAD!” Does that make me a bad person, or just someone who has too much Star Trek on the brain, or both?

    Well, the first thing I thought of was Big Audio Dynamite’s “Medicine Show.”

    ‘Course, they were just ripping off a spaghetti western.

  25. God is great, he said? Well, he’s about to find out.

  26. I think the fact that our justice system is not a joke is exactly the reason we shouldn’t degrade it in spectales such as this. Saddam was a bad leader who butchered many of his people. It is both proper and fitting that those people should want to kill him now that he has been disposed. But insisting that said justice be dispensed through a criminal trial gives real criminal trials a bad name. Saddam isn’t a criminal. He was an absolute dictator. He didn’t violtate the laws of Iraq. He was the law of Iraq.

  27. Actually, like many dictators, he broke quite a few of his own laws.

  28. But i’ve tried thinking about what other possible ways his ‘judgement’ could have gone.

    think ‘mussolini’ and ‘lamppost.’ when we didn’t go that route, i knew for sure that bush & co really weren’t going to do what it took to fight a real war.

  29. That was Blackjack Ketchum who was decapitated by the rope. I would guess he didn’t feel a thing, but it must have been a bloody mess for the hangman to deal with.

    A historical footnote:
    Before Lavoisier was guillotined, he asked a friend to observe his eyes as he would attempt to blink after beheading. He did, repeatedly, giving lie to the theory that beheading is an instantaneous painless death.

  30. you’re entitled to representation, to know the charges against you, to see the state’s evidence
    Unless some “credible source” uses the term “enemy combatant” and your name in the same breath. Then it’s pretty much a big secret as you are whisked off to some wannabe gulag. That is, you want it to be a gulag.

  31. I’m a lawyer, so I should side with my fellows in the profession and talk about The Great Majesty of Justice in this case. However, I’m of the opinion that we should have just shot him when we caught him. I don’t think he’s that important to the insurgency, but his trial allowed him to show off, and if he manages to die with some degree of courage, he becomes an important symbol to the opposition. Besides, this trial was hugely expensive and dangerous. We should have saved the Iraqi government the trouble and expense.

  32. Karen-

    There’s a lot to be said in favor of starting a new government by setting a precedent that former heads of state can’t be summarily executed.

    If I were the figurehead pretending to run Iraq right now, that would be my number one priority. Hell, if I were the nominal Iraqi leader I’d hire Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, and the re-animated corpse of Johnny Cochran to handle Saddam’s appeals. Just to set an important precedent. You know what I mean?

    Actually, on second thought, I wouldn’t spend that money on an appeals process. I’d spend it on a house in Switzerland, an airplane, and a well-paid pilot on 24 hour standby.

  33. In my more lucid moments, thoreau, I know you’re right. The new government really can’t start out by mimicking some of the mid-level unpleasantness of the last government. At the moment, however, I’m really depressed about the whole mess over there, and I can’t really see how this trial helped much.

    I’m with you on the best use of spare cash for the head of the Iraqi government now, although I think I’d have two pilots, so one is always well-rested. Both, of course, would be allowed on the plane when the inevitable time arrived.

  34. Mobs rarely if ever respect precedent, Thoreau. What are you going to do, appeal to the guy with the AK’s sense of fair play? “I gave *my* predecessor a drawn-out farce with an obvious conclusion, I deserve the same from you!” You’ll all have a good laugh as he’s dragging you into a soccer stadium to serve as the halftime show for the big Tikrit Tigers game.

  35. JR:
    If you are considered an enemy combatant, you don’t have the rule of law, at least after Oct 17th, 2006, or for that matter, much earlier in time. This date will become more important as time goes on.You’re thinking is so quaint, but so obsolete.

  36. “He did, repeatedly, giving lie to the theory that beheading is an instantaneous painless death.”

    It may not be instantaneous, but it might well be effectively painless.

    There are plenty of reports of people being seriously wounded, in farm accidents, shark attacks, combat, etc, where they didn’t feel much pain – maybe just a tug.

    So even if your head is conscious, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re feeling pain. And, really, it’s your neck, so it’s not that much tissue that was damaged. Important tissue, yes, but not that much of it, and I doubt there are many pain receptors beyond the skin. I bet burn victims are subject to far more pain, since their wounds cover far more area, and probably far more sensitive flesh.

    We’ll have to do more experiments, with the subjects asked to blink if they feel pain. And maybe wire them up to EEGs, or plop the head in an fMRI, and see what lights up.

  37. “that he be hanged by the neck until dead”

    Actually, IIRC, I read somewhere that hanging’s SUPPOSED to break the neck so death is instantaneous.

  38. Actually a proper hanging is an art.

    It requires poper placement of the knot and calculation of the drop appropriate to the weight of the subject. The idea is for the fall and resultant sideways jerk to cause two specific cervical vertebrae (I’ve forgotten which ones) to slide over each other thus severing the spinal cord supposedly producing nearly instantaneous death. This information was imparted to me by a chiropractic student at a party many years ago. Oh, and the party was such a bummer that that was the high point of the evening for me.

    Too long a drop and the head is torn off (as mentioned above – such incidents have been fairly common*) too short and the condemned is slowly strangled (this is what happens to most suicide victims).

    Somehow I’m doubting that anyone is going to be too scrupulous about sparing Saddam any suffering in his last minutes on this side of the mortal veil.

    *Washington was one of the last states to use hanging. There are records of several botched executions of both types.

  39. Shem-

    Oh, I agree, mobs don’t respect precedent, and if it gets to that point precedent will mean nothing. But if there is to be even the slightest chance of a society bound by the rule of law you have to start somewhere, and there’s no better starting point than at the beginning.

    Think of how different American history could have been if Washington had sought more than 2 terms, or if Adams had refused to step down after losing a bitter election.

    It may be that the trial of Saddam Hussein will be nothing more than the one significant deed of a short-lived government swept out by a coup. But as long as there’s a chance that something better will come about, the rule of law must be adhered to. Not for the sake of Saddam Hussein as a defendant, but rather for the sake of the future.

    Karen-

    Judging from some of the reports of graft and embezzlement in the Iraqi government, it’s safe to assume that all of the top guys in the regime have villas in foreign countries, well-fueled planes, pilots on standby, and well-paid bodyguards to get them to the planes.

  40. Saddam Hussein did one thing for Itraq that is generally glossed over. That being that Iraq is the only mid-east country that has had it’s national laws based on anything “other” than the Koran, or Islamic law. Whether or not their new Constitution caused a complete re-write of it’s criminal laws may be academic at this point, but one thing is for sure: If we are to ever hope t\hat they will honor ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE KORAN, then NOW is the time to start.

    And unlike our appeals system, theirs is said to take about 30 days. Whether he goes on to any of his other trials is moot for the moment, but there are several in the works.

    As for reference to “enemy combatants” getting a bu,m rap under our laws, I think “we” finally got around to recognizing the Geneva Convention in our laws regarding enemy combatants. Specifically they have no more protections under GC than they were giving to others before they were captured, (detained if they word is more palatable), and we all know how much that was.

    Now, once they have given up their protections under GC, who here wants to overlook that fact and treat them as if they are just kids out pulling off some Halloween pranks?

  41. Some people apprarently think Saddam Hussein didn’t have the right defense attorney. Well, he at least had one survive where others didn’t. And as for a friend, he couldn’t have picked a better one than our own former Attorney General Ramsey Clark: Per the following bio:

    >>>>>In the 1960’s, Clark climbed the career ladder rungs of a Presidential appointee, serving as Assistant Attorney General of the United States until 1965, Deputy Attorney General until 1967, and finally Attorney General until 1969. Throughout his tenure as Attorney General, Clark focused on social issues and civil rights. He set up the first federal narcotics addict treatment unit. He restructured federal prisons to stress the importance of rehabilitation, early release, education, and job training. He oversaw the first federal gun-control law to be enacted in over thirty years. He proposed the prohibition of the use of wiretapping and electronic surveillance in criminal investigations. And he was the first Attorney General to call for the elimination of the death penalty.

    The life and career of Ramsey Clark has been marked by the former Attorney General’s inseparable relationship with the anti-war movement. Over the decades, Clark has consistently condemned American foreign policy and its related military campaigns, from the Vietnam War, to the Iraq War, to the broader War on Terror. Conversely, he has backed groups, nations, and individuals with anti-American and even terroristic agendas. Among the notable recipients of Clark’s support are the following: anti-war protestor Philip Berrigan, who fire-bombed a military recruitment office in 1968; Libya’s Moammar Qadaffi; the Palestine Liberation Organization; Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic; the Communist-driven Workers World Party (WWP); the 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspirator Sheik Rahman; and Saddam Hussein.>>>>>

    See it all at: http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=781

  42. Thanks for the info, tarran and Buckshot.

  43. Snopes discussion of Lavoisier’s blinking head. The participants say there’s no evidence for the story:
    http://[http://www.urbanlegends.com/medical/decapitated_head_blinking.html

    They mention this report:
    http://www.metaphor.dk/guillotine/Pages/30sec.html
    which doesn’t make it sound as though Languille planned to blink, and which kinda reminds me of Herbert West: Reanimator.

  44. Of course Jack Kelley confirmed the blinking decapitated heads, and who are we to doubt him?

    http://foi.missouri.edu/mediacredibility/editorsshould.html

  45. Too long a drop and the head is torn off (as mentioned above – such incidents have been fairly common*) too short and the condemned is slowly strangled (this is what happens to most suicide victims).

    This is why I want a firing squad.

  46. A la Monty Python, “you are to be hanged by the neck until you cheer up…”

  47. have we killed more iraqi’s than he did yet? – its got to be close.

    Interesting question. Maybe we have. Or maybe we have quite a ways to go yet. I did a quick look around online and didn’t find a clear answer, but it looks like Saddam killed at least 600,000 – 700,000 Iraqis (low estimate) and possibly as many as 100,000 – 120,000 (high estimate).

    I welcome better figures from someone who has more time to research this than I do. I’d like to know. (I did not take the time to copy down the URLS for those figures.)

  48. What the hell is going on? Since when does America still hang people? Just line the fucker up and shoot him and be done with it.

  49. There’s a lot to be said in favor of starting a new government by setting a precedent that former heads of state can’t be summarily executed.

    In the context of Iraq there’s a lot to be said against it, too.

    If I were the figurehead pretending to run Iraq right now, that would be my number one priority.

    Then as said figure head, you’d be missing the boat right out of the gate.

    if there is to be even the slightest chance of a society bound by the rule of law you have to start somewhere, and there’s no better starting point than at the beginning.

    To compare Iraq to pre-Revolution America isn’t even close. The Iraqis don’t have our concept of “rule of law”, only Islamic and dictator law. Westerners, typically, are like the spoiled rich kid who grew up with no capacity to grasp what other people in the world don’t have.

    You’re starting out with the assumption that Iraqis have a far more sophisticated — and Westernized — outlook than they really do. Iraq is not ready for your impartial trial concept. They lack too many basic building blocks that are needed in the lead-up to it.

    They lack the intellectual foundation for democracy, for the same reasons.

    Iraq would have been better off if Saddam had been shot during the attempt to capture him. Of course, it would also have been better off if we hadn’t started out by firing everybody in the existing government.

    Americans (and Europeans) don’t understand other cultures, and they almost never try to understand. They just assume everybody else will see their way of doing things as self evident.

    It doesn’t work that way.

  50. “have we killed more iraqi’s than he did yet? – its got to be close.”

    Well said, Stan.

    In the 3.5 years that Bush and his illegal, unjustifiable invasion of Iraq has been going on, it’s cost more lives than Saddam ever did in his 23-year-rule. And, even if you beleive that fodder that Bush constantly feeds the public that Saddam had ties to al-Quaeda, etc., etc., the “War On Terror” has caused more American lives than 9/11.

    Saddam deserves to die because he killed his own people? Puh-lease, Mr. Bush.

  51. It is remarkable that Saddam has been sentenced for a crime he committed in 1982, at a time when the USA was more than eager to provide support to Saddam Hussein’s regime and was complicit in some of his crimes. As usual, this fact has not even been mentioned by our amnesiac media. Donald Rumsfeld, the incarnation of this administration’s moral bankruptcy, went to Baghdad shaking hands with Saddam, on December 20, 1983 (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/).

    At that time, Rumsfeld knew that Saddam was a dangerous dictator (contrary to 2003, when he wasn’t dangerous any more). He knew about the 1982 massacre that has now been recognized as a “crime against humanity”. Donald Rumsfeld knew that Saddam had ordered the use of chemical weapons against Iran in breach of the Geneva conventions (contrary to 2003, when Rumsfeld knew exactly that there were no chemical weapons). And he went to Baghdad in 1983, shaking hands with Saddam Hussein, offering him the support of the United States. That’s the story that will be told in the history book.

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